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The Top 10 Benefits of Kayaking

Did your doctor tell you that you need to get outside more? Maybe also that you need more exercise to improve your health? Or are you an avid outdoors person already and eager to find out about why certain activities are so good for you? In any case, you will definitely appreciate this article about the benefits of kayaking.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’re committed to providing all kinds of information about the great outdoors. We cover everything from fitting a wetsuit to reading a compass. As kayaking is becoming more and more important as a leisure adventure activity, we decided to dive into what makes the sport so beneficial to your health and well-being.


The obvious benefits of kayaking, a physical outdoor activity, are health-related. Kayaking is an aerobic activity, which, as Livestrong says, should be a key part of your weekly routine. This low-impact sport has many other benefits as well, from improving your mental health to enhancing your social life.

Although some aspects of it require more practice and extra training, you can easily learn the basics of kayaking in a single day. Despite having such a short learning curve, kayaking offers you a lifetime of benefits. Let’s take a look at the ten main benefits of kayaking below.


One of the greatest benefits of kayaking, as mentioned above a physical activity, is weight loss. HealthFitnessRevolution says that you burn 400 calories per hour when paddling at approximately 5mph. That means that a full afternoon of kayaking can result in no fewer than 1,600 calories being burned.

This per-hour rate is lower than other, more intense forms of exercise—running or swimming, for example. However, kayaking more than makes up for that because it’s often done for hours on end. Very few people run for more than one hour while many kayakers head out for outings that last several hours.


There’s nothing better than getting outdoors if you want to reflect on your life. Cutting through the water powered by your own muscles, watching nature pass by, is the best antidote to a stressful job, high-maintenance children or other personal problems.

Kayaking, even though it requires muscle movement, is a relaxing and rewarding activity. Do it for a few hours each week and you’ll quickly notice a drop in your stress levels.


Besides reducing stress, the benefits of kayaking also include improving your mental health overall. Aerobic exercise, including kayaking but also hiking and cycling, releases certain chemicals in your brain. These chemicals are responsible for your mood and confidence.

It’s also a great way to clear your mind of all negative thoughts. When you’re out on a river or lake for a while, your “material” problems will soon shrink into what they actually are—irrelevant to your actual happiness and well-being.


Because it’s so easy to learn and doesn’t require a superb fitness level from the get-go, kayaking is accessible to everyone. It’s a great way to make new friends. Especially on vacations, going on a group kayaking excursion is a fantastic way to meet people.

As social interactions are beneficial for your mental health, kayaking indirectly contributes to that as well.


The only way to move forward when kayaking is using your arms, back and shoulders. These are the main muscle groups that you use when paddling. Executing a proper stroke requires basically every muscle in your upper body.

On average, you’ll do about 500 strokes per mile. This means, of course, that if you kayak three miles in an hour, you’ll have executed 1,500 repetitions. Needless to say, this will eventually have a major effect on how your upper body looks.


As an aerobic sport, kayaking greatly improves your heart health. Your heart demands exercise. It’s pretty much the only muscle in your body that works constantly. It craves exercise. Giving it what it wants only strengthens it.

The continuous paddling involved with kayaking increases your heart rate. As such, your cardiovascular health will improve, too.


This is one of the benefits of kayaking that’s less intuitive. Everyone can see that kayaking is beneficial for your upper body muscle. Your legs, however, are less visible—quite literally. That doesn’t mean, though, that you don’t use your legs while kayaking.

In fact, your legs are critical because they apply pressure, secure you in your kayak and help you when balancing and maneuvering the kayak. On the water, you’ll tighten and loosen your leg muscles countless time as you navigate. This will increase your muscle strength over time.


One of your body’s most important muscle groups, your core muscles—better known as abs—are what keeps your body upright. As it happens, kayaking is one of the best exercises to strengthen your abs.

Sitting in the cockpit, turning your chest from one side to the other as you paddle, turning the kayak,… These things can only be done with the help of your core muscles. Each stroke and each turn is actually a mini-crunch. These repetitions will greatly increase the strength of this part of your body.


Like any other sport, kayaking has the potential to improve your self-image beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. From breaking your personal speed, distance or time records to conquering rapids, each success, however small, will help to enhance the way you feel about yourself.

Kayaking on a regular basis results in a boost in self-satisfaction. It also increases your social confidence and enhances your sense of self.


The last of these ten benefits of kayaking may be surprising and is often overlooked. It’s an obvious one, though. Spending significant amounts of time outside come with a huge benefit. Your intake of vitamin D will increase, which only has positive effects.

Vitamin D is the most difficult vitamin to get from food alone. In fact, most of us get more than 80% of our vitamin D from the sun. On top of that lies the fact that almost everyone has a lack of vitamin D. So, getting outside and hopping into your kayak will help you tremendously in that regard.

Source: Bram Reusen from

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